Justice in film

The New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema happened. (Zachary Schiller/YH Staff)

Each year, the New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema is hosted in Providence, Rhode Island and New Haven, Connecticut. The NEFIAC, which ran from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, marked its third year in a row in the Elm City, drawing a number of actors and directors to campus.
After an Oct. 1 screening of Ecuadorian filmmaker Jorge Torres’s documentary “Undocumented,” Torres gave a question-and-answer session, which was both hosted and attended by Yalies and residents of New Haven.

Following a brief introduction from Yale Spanish professor Margherita Tortora, a coordinator for the New Haven branch of the festival, and Raul Erazo Velarde, Ecuador’s Consul General in New Haven, Torres introduced his documentary. “I wanted to use this as a social tool for justice,” Torres said, reflecting upon the value of the film medium as a source of inspiration and societal change.

The 20-minute documentary reflected a larger theme in this year’s festival: the promotion of human rights through film. The festival showcased a range of perspectives in Ibero-American filmmaking, encouraging discussion about the plight of Mexican and Latin American immigrants in contemporary American society.

The documentary placed a general emphasis on countering the pervasive image of the immigrant as a “parasite” and went so far as to state that immigrants give more than they receive from society, specifically referencing what is paid in taxes versus what is received in benefits. The film ended with the phrase “No human being is illegal” emblazoned on the screen in stark black and white. “We have to start fighting to get our space…and try to give hardworking immigrants the respect that they deserve,” Tortora said following the screening.

The event, held in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, alternated between Spanish and English. The audience was comprised primarily of members of New Haven’s Latino community.

The subsequent question-and-answer session revealed the audience to be inquisitive, with many of its members asking Torres to specify how the emotionally climactic documentary would be used as a tool for social change. “The idea is to use this sadness as a tool to organize,” Jorges said.

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